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Advice on Domain Controller Server

By lickity40 ·
Good morning:

I need some quick advice on grade of server to be used for Domain Controller.

I really need to upgrade 4 servers. I have enough funding to purchase 2 really good servers and 2 that aren't as hot. My thinking is to put one of the really good ones for my accounting software and the other for the Exchange server. The other two lower-end servers for internet mail/gateway and the other for the Domain Controller.

I just want to make sure that I'm not allocating improperly in that the DC needs to have a hot server. I'm really not sure what resources are required for the DC.



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Capacity planning: step one

by stress junkie In reply to Advice on Domain Controll ...

The first thing that I thought of when I read your post is how you determined that you NEED to upgrade these machines. Have you spent time watching the system performance monitor on each machine? Do you know what resources are being heavily used and what resources aren't? Microsnot Windows software comes with some absolutely awesome system monitoring software. Use it.

Once you have this information then you will be able to determine the answers to your question.

You may not need to completely replace your servers. You may find that your servers are page thrashing. In a case like that you could just increase your RAM. You may find that your hard disks are being heavily used. Maybe purchasing newer/faster disks will fix that problem.

So, researching the causes of your current problem will lead to the resolution.


I hate seeing perfectly good equipment being replaced without first seeing if enhancing the existing equipment would do the job. It doesn't matter what you have in place if it will do the job. I would avoid purchasing new equipment just because the existing equipment is old, for instance.

Maybe you could take some of the retired desktop computers and use them as additional backup domain controllers. If money is going to be spent on equipment it may be better spent on replacing desktop computers. Then the old desktop computers can be put into service as network service providers, like domain controllers and DNS servers and stuff like that. A lot of network services can be spread out among many computers. Domain controllers fit this model. You can have a bunch of backup domain contollers, just as you can have a bunch of backup/slave DNS servers.

If you spend whatever money you have on things that people will see and use directly every day then your reputation among the user community will be enhanced. This will filter up through management and will get to your manager through word of mouth. The entire user community, including managers of other departments, will see you as a strong asset to the business because they can see how you have made their job easier. And everyone likes to see a new machine on their desk. Nobody cares about new equipment in the server room.

So, very often you can forget about buying new equipment to provide network services. Adding more old computers to the mix can be a better way to use exsiting resources. New equipment can go where more people in the business can see and directly benefit. By this I mean put the money into desktop computers and use old equipment for behind-the-scenes functions.

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VERY good information!

by lickity40 In reply to Capacity planning: step o ...


Thank you so much for your very detailed response. Everything you say makes sense. I know I didn't go into much detail as to why I'm upgrading but will mention that being a non-profit, monies aren't always conviently available to upgrade so when they say I have this much to spend, I make it happen.

Also, my already small server room has 6 servers that take up the entire counter space so I'm upgrading to an enclosed, ventulated rack-mount system. The 'old servers' will be passed down and make nice upgrades to workstations.

So I am in the process of running the performance tests on the servers as you suggested. Such an logical and obvious answer to my question and I'm grateful that you brought it to my attention!

Thanks again!


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One good thing about M$ operating systems

by stress junkie In reply to VERY good information!

One of the things that I really like about M$ operating systems is that they come with a lot of excellent system administration software at no extra cost. Some years ago when I was working mostly with DEC VMS, and even now working with Sun OS/Solaris, I found that these very expensive products were shipped to the customer pretty much stripped down. If you wanted a system performance monitor it would cost you $10,000 per server. If you wanted the additional software to analyze the performance monitor data it would also cost you an additional $10,000 per server.

I've been working with Microsnot software my whole career along with the big rig software. One thing about Microsnot is that they have listened to what people wanted in the way of software packages and bundled those things for free with their operating system software. When Windows v3 came out it didn't include a TCP/IP stack. The place that I was working paid $1,000 per PC for a third party TCP/IP stack that ran in MS-DOS. Then M$ invented Windows for Workgroups and it had a TCP/IP stack bundled with it, for free!

I believe that the first time I saw the M$ computer monitor software was with WNT v3.5. I was shocked and amazed. I was used to paying huge sums of money for something like that.

Being the old kodger that I am I'm sometimes inclined to resort to the old "back in my day" anecdotes. The point is that the system performance monitoring software available on M$ servers is great. People should use it.

I'm glad that I could help. I frequently find that resolving a problem might start with looking at the problem from a new perspective or gaining more information about the problem. At least that's true in IT.

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Server Space

by Roger99a In reply to VERY good information!

If you're running out of space you could re-case some systems. are cheap 4U rack mount cases that I have used in the past to build a few "econo-servers" in. This and a good Athlon 64 board (MSI or ABIT for me), a couple of 10K RPM Raptor SATA drives in RAID and all the RAM you can afford and you can get a pretty speedy and reliable server for a little money. This being said, I still run critical apps on Dells or Compaqs just so I will have someone else to blame if something goes wrong.

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by lickity40 In reply to Server Space

Until recently, I'd never even seen a rack-mount server. These look like a very neat idea! A real money-saver!

Thanks Rog!


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DC server

by jackfink In reply to Advice on Domain Controll ...

You havent mentioned the size of your organization, but a good choice of servers is a Compaq DL380 with dual cpu's and min. 2 gb ram. This particular machine will work very well for both of your server needs and is not overly expensive. You can add an additional array controller to this machine to split the back plane and create 2 distinct and seperate volumes. With the size of the new hard drives its possible to have up to half a terrabyte or more of storage space on this small foot print server. Good Luck

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Good choice

by angry_white_male In reply to DC server

We've been buying the DL380's (along with the DL360's for applications requiring less horsepower) for our server upgrades. Great servers - very happy with the products.

We were considering going the blade route this year - but we were wondering if we would be left holding the bag in 5 years with very expensive cages that may be incompatible with the latest offerings?

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